Former Governor’s Car: 1965 King Midget Model 3

I visited LBJ’s ranch and “Texas White House” in Stonewall, Texas a couple of weeks ago for the first time. One of the buildings there had the kind of big American cars that we would associate with a big American political personality such as Lyndon Baines Johnson. LBJ was never the governor of Texas, but this 1965 King Midget Model 3 was reportedly owned by a former governor of Connecticut. It can be found here on eBay in Memphis, Tennessee with bids of over $3,000 and the reserve isn’t met.

A former president of the U.S. is in a different league than the governor of a state is, but I find it unusual, and fun, that someone with a big enough personality to be elected to a high-profile office such as the governor of a state has owned a car like a King Midget. On the other hand, if I ruled the world I would have one so maybe it’s not the size of the car as much as how a person feels about unusual vehicles. I love them and obviously, whichever governor of Connecticut reportedly owned this car, they also loved them. The seller doesn’t tell us which governor it was.

At a time when 1957 Chevrolets were being produced, Midget Motors Corporation out of Athens, Ohio, started producing the King Midget Model 3, or Model III, or Type III, or Type 3. The model name is shown several different ways by respected automobile sources, but most of them list them as Model 3 so that’s what I’ll stick with here. The last model of the King Midget was made between 1957 and 1969 when the company declared bankruptcy due to the new owners not following the founders’ method of staunchly tying production to orders and they got in too deep. It’s a shame but the writing was on the wall for microcars like this in the U.S. market which was flooded by gigantic land yachts, big V8 engines, and freeways.

This example looks nice but it could use a little bit of tidying up. The seller doesn’t seem to know much about this car or King Midgets, in general. They say that there’s no rust on this one and it does look rock-solid.  The Model 3 weighs 670 pounds and is just under ten-feet in length so I could theoretically hoard, I mean store, three of them in each storage unit. Hmmm.. I’m not sure if the steering wheel is cracked all the way through but I’d want to check that out very carefully before driving it on public roads, and they are street legal, by the way.

NADA is at $7,650 for an average value so this one may have a ways to go on the bid price. The seller says that it’s a good, solid car but they don’t say how it runs or if it runs. I’m assuming that it does but I don’t know for sure. The engine may be a 12-hp Kohler single-cylinder even though I believe that they were officially added in 1966. I see that the air cleaner is missing, hopefully it comes with the car. The seller mentions to give them a call with any questions and they’re taking serious offers for what some folks think isn’t a serious car. Those of us who like our vehicles on the unusual side love King Midgets. Have any of you owned one?

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Comments

  1. Howard A Member

    “Well, it took our best mechanics 3 days to find the reason it won’t start, but we finally got it”( $800 repair bill, coil wire disconnected) I worked with a guy that had a couple of these, a glorified go-kart, really, most were not impressed. You can see the 12hp. decal, not the best motors, but adequate. I suppose for a small, gated community, be ok. Heaven help you on real roads.

    Like 7
  2. DETROIT LAND YACHT

    Isn’t this one of those vehicles that the cigar-chomping jolly fat dudes wearing a fez use to lead parades in? I forget if they were Elks or Masonic…but they
    were always the most affluent fellas in any given community…and they would drive these little suckers in formation.I’m not making this up.

    Like 5
    • pzak

      Shriners

      Like 15
  3. Dennis Marth

    When I was a youngster, in the 50’s and 60’s, King Midgets were always advertised in the back pages of Popular Mechanics. I always fantasied about have one (at the age of 10!).

    Well, I never did get one, but my dad did build me a slow cart, with a 2 speed transmission no less. It all but eliminated my desire for those cool little carlets.

    Like 8
  4. Peter s Kaczmarski

    I also wanted a King Midget. Seeing them in town while growing up plus every month their ad in Popular Mechanics etc. At age 56 I finally got one restored from Missouri a couple years ago and I love it.

    Like 5
  5. Del

    I can just see Huey Long tooling along in one of these.

    Bit small for LBJ. Maybe for the Maid

    Like 4
  6. Dennis Marth

    As a footnote: I grew up in Connecticut and I’m having a hard time trying to guess which governor might have owned this KM. John Dempsey, long time Governor? Ella Grasso? Bill ‘the Bartender” O’Neill? I just don’t see it.

    Like 1
  7. Skip Weaver

    Hi. I am producing King Midget parts, and own the name/ trademark. I’ve waiting for the Federal Government to finalize a law they passed so I can resume production. If this car IS rust free, it’s worth about $5k. The KM market is pretty flat right now.

  8. Del

    I prefer a Queen Midget

    Like 1
  9. Stevieg

    When Del wrote “queen midget”, I was picturing midget porn lol.

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